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Answering the question “What makes a paper company green?”

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Noel Ward, of Digital Nirvana, helps answer that very question.

Certifiably Green

By Noel Ward on March 31st, 2010

What makes a company “green?” Anyone will admit that printing is hardly a poster-child for green industries, but there is still a lot to be said for ways of making printing greener than it is often thought to be. A lot goes into this: paper, recycling, ink and toner, energy, chemistry and more. Technology is on our side. Printing can be much cleaner and more sustainable. And just this week, two companies have rolled out their latest steps toward a more environmentally responsible printing industry.

First up is Océ. Maybe because of its roots in the Netherlands and Germany, Océ has long taken an approach of environmental sustainability, well before it was fashionable. Numerous components of the company’s print engines have typically been re-manufactured rather than simply thrown away. Even its factory in Poing, Germany recycles heated and cooled air to reduce energy costs. Various features of its print engines and toners have been developed with sustainability in mind. Other equipment vendors have adopted similar policies, but Océ has always been a bit more vocal about this company-wide commitment.

Two new alliances, one with Certified Green Partners and another with Trees for the Future are the centerpieces of the company’s new Eco Start program aimed at helping customers be more aware of, and proactive about the environment and their own businesses. The most interesting part of this, which I’m looking forward to seeing first hand, is the Eco-Calculator, which predicts the carbon emissions of any Océ production printing system and calculates the number of trees that must be planted to offset its emissions. The calculator is designed to help customers evaluate the energy consumption and resulting carbon footprint of their Océ-powered print operations.

This is linked to Océ Eco Start Program. Through a partnership with Trees for the Future, Océ will plant trees to offset carbon emissions generated by production printing equipment purchased by Océ North America customers during the equipment’s first year of operation to help customers get started with a full year of carbon offsets. Imagine if more companies in our industry took their own versions of this type of leadership.

Then there’s Mohawk, which just today sent me a packet of new papers from their Mohawk Loop line. This is a comprehensive family of recycled and environmentally preferable papers. All made with 100% post-consumer waste, these offer a genuine environmental “pedigree,” if you will, and look to have the quality, variety and performance that should make them a good choice for designers with clients who want to extend their environmental stance to many types of printed materials. According to Mohawk, the new line is FSC-certified, manufactured using windpower and is carbon neutral.

In an age when print is declining in popularity and when some factions claim it is anything but environmentally sustainable, it’s wonderful to see actions like those announced this week by Océ and Mohawk. Other firms have their own initiatives and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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